Guest Post: Will Bernanke Save The Equity Markets?

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Vedran Vuk of Casey Research

Will Bernanke Save The Equity Markets?

How far is the Fed from reaching the bottom of its ammunition box?

Well, both Mario Draghi and Ben Bernanke said no to yet more monetary stimulus recently.

Wall Street unsurprisingly was disappointed.

Wall Street expected more stimulus, as institutional investors are analyzing monetary policy from their own perspective rather than the central bank's viewpoint – understandable, but a big mistake.

Wall Street's Conundrum: with the S&P 500 up less than 7% in 2012, the year is almost over, and the investment firms have little to show for it.

This 7% return might be OK in calmer markets, but instead investors have been taken on a rollercoaster ride – all for a measly 7% return.

So what could send stocks higher?

Well, if the European crisis just disappeared, things would turn for the better… but that's not likely to happen.

Or perhaps if US unemployment finally moved downward… but that's not going to happen either.

The only short-term savior for equity markets is another round of extreme monetary stimulus, which will keep things propped up a bit longer.

Hopefully in that time, unemployment and the general economy would improve, which would lead to a reduction in the fiscal strain on troubled governments.

So Bernanke has control of the only immediate game-changer left on the table, and he's not playing Wall Street's tune.

Without that money, Wall Street faces the reality of a stagnant market.

Frankly, fund managers don't need a meltdown to be badly hurt here; failing to produce adequate returns is a bad enough outcome.

After all, how many people would place their money in a high-risk market after a few years of low single-digit returns?

Probably much fewer than today.

As a result of this conundrum, Wall Street sees monetary stimulus as the only way forward – hence the strong belief that Bernanke and Draghi will produce stimulus at any moment.

To Wall Street, this makes sense, but unfortunately for them, the Federal Reserve has different incentives.

Bernanke realizes that he is low on bullets. The last few landed way off target, and his final bullet might miss the mark even more so.

Bernanke is stuck with two options here: he can fire off his last bullet now (as Wall Street desires) and can send the market up maybe 1,000 points on the DJIA.

Or he can wait to save this last bullet in case the market crashes.

But if Bernanke shoots his bullet now and the market crashes anyway, he's going to go down in history as the worst Federal Reserve chairman ever.

And if he tries to shoot the gun again in an emergency after he has overheated it, Bernanke might very well send the economy into a hyperinflation.

In such a scenario, he would become a cautionary tale for econ graduate students for the next hundred years (and I'm not kidding about that… economists are still discussing the monetary policy of the Great Depression).

Would you take such a risk for a couple of hundred extra points on the DJIA? I don't think so.

Wall Street's incentive and Bernanke's couldn't be further apart on delivering another monetary stimulus before it's desperately needed.

You may ask yourself:

"Didn't Bernanke boost the stock market only a few years ago? Why wouldn't he do it again now?"

Times change. A few years ago, Bernanke had a lifetime wealth problem on his hands regarding the average US consumer. When someone loses 25% of their home's equity and their 401(k) crashes by 35%, they become shell-shocked as a result of their total lifetime wealth taking a sudden large dip.

Economists understand that the spending behavior of someone with a $500,000 nest egg saved for retirement isn't the same as for a person with half as much.

It's really a simple concept: when we feel more comfortable about our future, we can spend more today.

Even if one had no risk of losing his or her job in the crash, personal spending habits would often change in reflection of reduced lifetime wealth.

Beforehand, by boosting equity markets, Bernanke could stimulate the economy by increasing everyone's sense of their lifetime wealth, inducing them to spend more in the present.

Unfortunately, as we've reported on many occasions, this strategy didn't work so well.

Now Bernanke again holds the option of boosting equities with yet more stimulus. Will another thousand points on the DJIA really send the economy back into a recovery?

Most likely not.

That said, another round of monetary stimulus isn't completely out of the question.

A High-Risk Gamble: However, with the possibility of a European-led market crash around the corner, an early stimulus would be a very high-risk gamble in Bernanke's eyes – a gamble that may seal his fate forever.

While Wall Street fund managers are worried about delivering returns to their clients, Bernanke has a million problems on his mind, and equity prices are not one of them.

Though the market will continue to get overexcited at the possibility of more monetary stimulus, we probably won't see another round of a truly massive program until things really hit the fan and the Fed is forced to reach toward the bottom of the ammunition box.

While Ben scrambles around on the floor for more bullets, investors need to rethink their strategy to get them through to the other side of this crisis, because it's far from over.

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rsnoble's picture

There's only 1 answer: the big reset. They keep trying to work around it but it's still coming.

AldousHuxley's picture

you can defer reset by stealing oil from iran.



JustPrintMoreDuh's picture

Russia & China might have a slight problem with that.

ACP's picture

Nah, they'll just wait for the US govt to fuck up yet again, then move in & pick up the pieces, like everywhere else.

AlphaDawg's picture

He will print eventually, you fucking know it.

When? Who knows? Tomorrow, in a year?

Who gives a fuck, all you need to know is he will print.

He said he will devealue the currency and has done to date.

So stop being a pussy and stack silver you stupid bunch of gimps

boogerbently's picture

Printing delays recovery.

Why expand (and hire) when Ben B. gives you free money.


Lewshine's picture

"Eventually print"?? We've just witnessed a 1000 point ramp in less than 2 weeks, with each of the three indexes behaving like hell would have to freeze over before it could possibly breach the flatline. Give me a break! This all happens as 9 economic data releases' fail to meet expectations, the worst of which was jobless claims coming in much worse than expected, followed by Hilsenrath's "headline PROP release" that healed a 200 pt drop in the market, 10 minutes into close, then Draghi's promise to "do whatever needed to be done"!! This, being the beginning of this current parabol we've seen up to this last Friday. Coincidentally, it is my belief that the Fed is also micro-mananging any asset that can provide evidence of this backdoor funding of the stock market, since commodities have moved mildly higher, while metals get their usual noontime spanking...Everyday! My question? Where is it written that Ben needs to forecast or publicize a stim action?? My bet is this continues all through next week and until election day.

Why wouldn't it? Didn't need a reason to happen - Won't need a reason to continue. But it will take a Big reason to stop it...Thus, cue a doctored data report, or J. Hilsenrath for a curtain call, or dangle another Draghi carrot, (while Ben flips the switch) - Pick one, its good for a thousand points! Shit - This isn't rocket science! 

Shelby Moore III's picture

Apparently most were not active in the market, as volume was extremely low on this rise, being the height of vacations.

Fed was active in pumping up the stock market via Repos as documented by Zerohedge.

Appeared to be an engineered attack on the shorts (driving VIX to lowest since 2007), timed to coincide with market apathy season.

But the larger reality has to be dealt with come September, and markets still have to put food on the table.

Silver Bug's picture

If by save, you mean print unlimited amounts of money and destroy the underlying currency, then yes. He will.

JPM Hater001's picture

"But if Bernanke shoots his bullet now and the market crashes anyway, he's going to go down in history as the worst Federal Reserve chairman ever."

It'll be Bush's fault...and he is already the worst chairsatan in history...

boogerbently's picture


What does he care? He'll be well compensated.

ACP's picture

Unfortunately, the Fed can print longer than people can remain solvent, or sane for that matter.

jimod's picture

Interest rates start to go up, bond greed turns to bond fear and flight to equities.

Rates down and equities must still go up, greed for more corporate balance sheet juggling?

I don't see how equities go down soon.


slaughterer's picture

The markets need to be saved?  Huh?  I think they are doing fine alright right now without Bernanke saving them.

buzzsaw99's picture

the bernak doesn't give a flying fuk about anything but bank balance sheets and banker bonuses. the author thinks he has a million things going on inside that pointy dome? HA!

not fat not stupid's picture

Wow is Tyler's teenage kid taking a writing class? The prose here isn't up to ZH standard.

Lewshine's picture

Hey Shakespeare,

I'd rather someone post substance with bad writing skills, than a professor of linguistics waste time and space - With self-aggrandizing criticisms.

PiratePawpaw's picture

"In such a scenario, he would become a cautionary tale for econ graduate students for the next hundred years "

IMHO, he already has.

"However, with the possibility of a European-led market crash around the corner, an early stimulus would be a very high-risk gamble in Bernanke's eyes – a gamble that may seal his fate forever."

The economy has already gone over the cliff. At this point Bernanke's choice is which side of the canyon floor it is going to hit.

Reese Bobby's picture

The Bernank will do whatever the Global Bank Cartel tells him to do, and It will tell him to print fiat.  It is simply a question of when.  Does the author expect Them to admit the mistake and change course?

Shelby Moore III's picture

The Bernank will do whatever the Global Bank Cartel tells him to do, and It will tell him to print fiat.

So thus, when do TPTB tell him to cause chaos (this is not 2009)?

See my prior logic:

Note there are millions of Americans who you can take their gun from the cold dead hand only. So moving to chaos, means TPTB want to discredit the existing system and move to the end game. Read something about DHS purchasing 1 billion hollow point rounds recently (the bullets that make a plate sized exit hole), but didn't dig into to verify that conspiracy theory. As the central bank's ammunition lose potency, will TPTB move to real bullets?

diogeneslaertius's picture

what matters is not how clean the code looks but how well it compiles/functions

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Seems overly optimistic that Bernanke could manage to send the DJIA up by 1,000 points, last bullet or not.

shokdee's picture



Sorry just finished my latest song!

Can i Be Zero Hedge DJ!!?!





Love to all the Os


shokdee's picture

Opps so sorry, wrong forum!?!

I thought this was sound cloud?



shokdee's picture

!!!!!! Silly me! Mr DJ monkey boy!!!!!

Down down down< my good how low can it go!

I'll go watch Planet of the Apes OK!




!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING OVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


relax and love 2 U

vbone's picture

stocks look saved to vbone bro!

HardAssets's picture

Well lets see - - for the sake of weekend completely 'tin foil hat' speculation - - If I  was one of TPTB who pull the strings of the paid-for intellectuals like the Bernank - - what would I do ?

I'd let the market slide down its way . . . so that O. would get no help in the election, and be out the door. He's fulfilled his purpose - participated in trashing the economy and advancing the police state - and making sure the US is in various wars.

I'd put Romnoid in because the foolish 'right' will go for it. They'll stand down when 'their guy' ends up doing the same things O. did - - but far worse. Just like after W.  Furthermore, Romnoid went to Harvard Law & Harvard Biz school so he knows a lot more about how to steal than O. - - O. is clueless on finance & economics.

I'd also make sure there was some 'controversy' associated with the election results so the 'left' is angered over it. The game is divide & conquer - - you want them tied up fighting each other while we rob their wealth and freedom. What fools they are.

Yeah thats what I'd order Bernank to do. - - He probably still thinks its about 'economics'.

DeFeralCat's picture

It would be reckless to act now with the Dow up 10% with simple words and support. A couple of points up would have very little impact on the election; however, if he prints and gas spikes a dollar with food prices following, he may very well cost Obama the election. There is simply no need to act here when words have the same impact. He should not act unless the market corrects downward.

Shelby Moore III's picture

He should not act unless the market corrects downward.

Acting and failing would likely end the pyschological power of the Bernanke put.

Failure could potentially occur if attempting QE when Europe and China are imploding at that time the US markets decline significantly.

This is not 2009. The Fed was exporting the inflation. China has already built all the ghost cities it can.

Emerging exporters have already created the duplicitious supply to feed that non-existent demand.

Non-existent demand means pulling demand forward with debt. For example, 30 years mortgages pulling demand for housing forward by 30 years. Worse declining birth rates are even more unable to compensate for 30 years of lost demand.

So where is the profitable sector that can absorb more debt (QE)? It will feed almost entirely into inflation, which means the real GDP goes down faster (GDP deflator goes up).

YesWeKahn's picture

Bernakiot will save the market because Larry Summer is a day trader.

scatterbrains's picture

How much is PPT stimulus worth when it levitates the markets using tools like HFT and with the help of JPM/GS? The PPT was clearly in the market lifting every short term dip since Draghi's comments, which I'm sure was synchronized with the NYFed as an accomplice and creating a near 8% rise in 401k's, pensions, trading accounts etc.  How much higher can the markets go on the back of ppt manipulation before the fed even mentions another QE' ?  Maybe Bernank thinks if he runs stocks up to 1666 on /ES he wont need QE ? 

earleflorida's picture

there is little for the bernak to worry about? the 'law of large numbers' will covertly hide his failures in a honeycomb whac- a-mole' of statistical bliss...


SMC's picture

The only way to win is not to play their game.


orangegeek's picture

Bernake has already blown his load trying to keep markets up.  There's nothing left.


SP500 is headed down very soon.  Pathetically low volume supports this case.  Euro collapse (rise in USD) will sink equity and commodity markets too.

Shelby Moore III's picture
Bernake has already blown his load trying to keep markets up.  There's nothing left.
  1. Fed removed $2.9 trillion of Tier 1 capital from the system.
  2. Merely announcing a willingness to ease if conditions worsen, sent inflation expectations over 2% target.
  3. Duration and percentage extent of bounce has diminished for each subsequent QE program.
  4. Growth-in-real-GDP per unit-of-new-debt (a/k/a marginal-utility-of-debt) has reached a global inflection point, with at least Europe, Brazil, Argentina, and China now IMPLODING (confirmed by coal stockpiles, iron ore prices, Baltic Dry index, German port activity, and a multi-year bearish H&S on Europe indices, Brazil index, and copper which is rolling over).
In summary, it is game over because the capital of the world has been wasted and misallocated to the point that there are insufficient scale of profitable investments for new debt to flow into. Thus (significant scale) QE is checkmated or nearly so.

Firing massive impotent ammunition would result in chaos, and hyperinflation relative to gold (yet deflation of prices in financed assets believe it or not, due to the negative M.U.O.D.).

Bear's picture

I think you are right ... I have been following king Copper over the past couple of years and now as the Market lifted, Copper tried and tried but it couldn't make it back to 3.50. Until it does, the Market is vulnerable

Shelby Moore III's picture

China will have to hold off on further easing or even tighten again, in order to keep housing affordable:

“The government may issue new tightening measures, but they would be mild because it’s facing a big dilemma of balancing economic growth and property curbs.”

The risk of a rebound in the property market may be limiting the PBOC’s room to reduce interest rates further or cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios to boost funds in the financial system and support lending after new credit slumped in July.

“Rising property prices are constraining aggressive policy action from the central bank,” said Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong. “The government will introduce more policies to contain a property bubble,” including the extension of a property tax to more cities, he said.

dexter bland's picture

Not only that but they look like to have a debt crisis of their own in the near future. All that misguided stimulus construction now lurking in opaque, off balance sheet entities, corporate sector debt the highest in the world while profits are plunging. Banks will need recapitalizing soon, margins further slashed by low lending to deposit differentials. But with no bottom to the stock market plunge, and with most of the economy subject to the whim of faceless government officials, who would want to invest?

Shelby Moore III's picture

Widely respected economics professor who had predicted China's problems several years ago, now says that China has entered the hard-landing:

China's food prices back to rising rapidly:

Note that FXI (proxy for China's stock market) has reversed most of the gains it made after the Draghi bounce in early August.


China re-implementing price controls:

SOEs' Jan-July profit decreases 13.2%:

New tightening measures coming in Sept or Oct:

New price-control measures may soon hit China's property market, which has just begun to show signs of a rebound following government measures to stimulate the slowing economy, analysts and industry insiders have said.

It is widely expected that new cooling measures will be unveiled before September or October, the country's traditional peak season for home sales.

In some Chinese cities, the need for tighter controls could be pressing, as prospective home buyers that chose to wait due to a tightening market started rush-buying following two interest rate cuts in June and July, which were targeted at boosting the economy but triggered expectations of a warming property market.

But he added that if housing prices continued to rebound, new policies will be introduced soon.

In a commentary on Monday in the Financial News, a newspaper published by the central bank, government officials were reported to be cautious about the possibility of cutting the reserve requirement ratios for banks, because it wants to keep the "spigot of funds" for real estate industry tight.

"The purpose of preventing further property price rises and industry bubbles is quite obvious," said the commentary.

Property market sources said they are already bracing themselves for firmer government action.

But they also said they didn’t expect any new measures to be overly severe, as that would have too negative an effect on overall economic performance, already under pressure from dwindling trade and weakening domestic spending.


Lewshine's picture

Stock Market = Chart = Bernanke = Wall = Bloody Red Spot.

Getting Old Sucks's picture

Could someone explain exactly how a big reset would work?  I mean like explain it all in a concise rational way that it would work?

PiratePawpaw's picture


Maybe not rational, but concise.

Realisticly, they will try to muddle through until there is no option viable or not left to try. Then there will be default/war/civil disorder. Then we get "NEW and IMPROVED" dollars, and it starts all over.

shokdee's picture

 !!!! Magic. Maybe not rational, but concise. !!!!!!!!

PiratePawpaw's picture

Unfortunately, "the big reset" will not be like Staples "Easy button".

Every empire dies, this one will not be different. History will show that America peaked somewhere between 1945 and 1962. We have been in decline since then. Our run will have lasted just short of 250 years, not long compared to Rome. The similarities between the two are interesting. Rome fell victim to its own success as it destroyed its own middle class through corruption and greed. As it slowly grinds to a halt, the empire is sustained not by the elites, but by the peasants who have the most to lose. Eventually there will be a "dark age" of transition, and a new empire will emerge from the ashes. Then history will repeat itself...again.

deez nutz's picture

Then we get "NEW and IMPROVED" dollars

Then we get "NEW and IMPROVED" CREDIT CARDS(sic).